Gym instructor who groomed 14-year-old girl at North Yorkshire gym jailed

A gym instructor who groomed a 14-year-old girl at a North Yorkshire gym has been jailed almost eight years after the the offence.

Thursday, 14th November 2019, 11:54 am
Updated Thursday, 14th November 2019, 11:56 am
York Crown Court.

Ben Towler, aged 36, from Rotherham, was tried on five charges of sexual activity with a child.

He denied the charges but the jury convicted him of kissing the victim and acquitted him of the other four charges.

He was sentenced to eight months in jail at York Crown Court on October 22 2019.

The victim reported the matter to North Yorkshire Police in March 2018 leading to an investigation by the Non-Recent Abuse Investigation Team.

Detective Constable Ali Morris, from North Yorkshire Police’s Non-Recent Abuse Investigation Team, led the investigation.

She said: “Ben Towler was aged 25 when he befriended and flirted with the 14-year-old victim during the fitness sessions to which she arrived and left wearing her school uniform.

“He invited her to his home to babysit while he went out with his wife. When he drove the victim home he complimented on her on her looks and said how grown-up she was for her age.

“This soon developed into sexual activity to which the victim says she only went along with to keep Towler happy.”

Towler groomed the girl for sexual activity between September and October 2010 when she began to train at the gym he worked at in York.

DC Morris and the investigation team carried out extensive enquiries which led to Towler being summonsed to York Magistrates’ Court on April 4 2019. The case was transferred to York Crown Court on April 30.

DC Morris added: “The stark reality is that a 14-year-old girl was made to feel obliged to have a sexual relationship with a 25-year-old man.

“This clearly amounts to sexual grooming on the part of Towler and shows how impressionable young people can be manipulated and taken advantage of by adults with dark intentions.

“It is never too late for victims to report such abuse, whether it happened last week or decades ago. The Non-Recent Abuse Investigation Team will seek justice against abusers and ensure victims are fully supported and cared for throughout.”

As well as being imprisoned, Towler was barred from working with children, made subject to a sexual harm prevention order and put on the sex offenders’ register, both for a period of 10 years.

Reporting child abuse and seeking help

If you have been a victim of abuse you can contact North Yorkshire Police on 101.

If you are in immediate danger, always dial 999 for an emergency response.

Victims who would prefer not to go direct to the police and are not in immediate danger, can contact Bridge House, North Yorkshire’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), on 0330 223 0362, [email protected] or www.bridgehousesarc.orgYou can also contact the Supporting Victims Unit direct at www.supportingvictims.org or call 01609 643100.

NSPCC Helplines:

Help for adults concerned about a child – call 0808 800 5000

Help for children and young people – call Childline on 0800 1111